Tag Archives: Britain

Britain hires ex-Obama official to advise on tech economy
August 2, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has hired Jason Furman, chief economist in former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, to chair a new panel that will steer its approach to digital technology, the UK government said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman speaks at a Brookings Institution forum on “Achieving Strong Economic Growth” in Washington April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The panel will look at competition in the digital economy and how technological progress can be squared with the protection of privacy and society at large.

Furman served as chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers between 2013 and 2017 and is currently a professor of economic policy at Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“His experience will be invaluable as we ensure that our market-regulating institutions are fit for purpose in the digital age,” British finance minister Philip Hammond said.

Britain wants to keep close ties with the European Union around digital regulation after Brexit, although it will not be a part of the bloc’s Digital Single Market – a plan to make online trade easier between EU countries.

Britain’s digital industry turned over about 116.5 billion pounds ($ 153 billion) in 2016, or around 7 percent of economic output.

“While digital markets have produced significant consumer benefits, including in the UK, we need to fully understand how competition policy needs to adapt going forward,” Furman said.

“Our focus needs to be on ensuring that consumers continue to benefit from these new technologies while maximizing the innovative potential from the economy.”

Furman’s panel will operate from September through to early 2019, when it is due to submit its findings to the government.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Stephen Addison

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Britain urged to prosecute social media firms over online abuse
December 13, 2017 12:39 am|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Social media companies should face prosecution for failing to remove racist and extremist material from their websites, according to a report by an influential committee.

FILE PHOTO – A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person’s eye, in Zenica, March 13, 2015.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Prime Minister Theresa May’s ethics watchdog recommends introducing laws to shift the liability for illegal content onto social media firms and calls for them to do more to take down intimidatory content.

Social media companies currently do not have liability for the content on their sites, even when it is illegal, the report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life said.

The recommendations form part of the conclusions of an inquiry into intimidation experienced by parliamentary candidates in an election campaign this year.

“The widespread use of social media has been the most significant factor accelerating and enabling intimidatory behavior in recent years,” the report said.

“The committee is deeply concerned about the limited engagement of the social media companies in tackling these issues.”

While the report said intimidation in public life is an old problem, the scale and intensity of intimidation is now posing a threat to Britain’s democracy.

FILE PHOTO – People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

The report found that women, ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political candidates are disproportionately likely to be the targets of intimidation.

The committee heard how racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic abuse is putting off some candidates from standing for public office.

Platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are criticized for failing to remove abusive material posted online even after they were notified.

FILE PHOTO – A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed YouTube logo in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration

The committee said it was “surprised and concerned” Google, Facebook and Twitter do not collect data on the material they take down.

“The companies’ failure to collect this data seems extraordinary given that they thrive on data collection,” the report said. “It would appear to demonstrate that they do not prioritize addressing this issue of online intimidation.”

Twitter said in a statement it has announced several updates to its platform aimed at cutting down on abusive content and it is taking action on 10 times the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year.

YouTube declined to comment, while Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Many politicians have become more vocal about the abuse they face after Labour’s Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children, was shot and repeatedly stabbed a week before Britain’s Brexit referendum last year.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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